As my first term in Congress winds down, the high level of partisanship in Washington has not subsided. In a time when compromise should be the key to tackling the important tasks still at hand, many have opted to stick to their partisan guns, ignoring the will of the American people.
I often stress to my colleagues that representatives are not elected by a single group of people, political party, or specific interest group. Each and every member of Congress is elected to represent a district, and to do it well and in a fair and thoughtful manner. Luckily, I'm finding a few folks in Washington who understand this, and we've been able to get some work done in spite of the ongoing partisan bickering. I want to pass along to you an update on the progress being made -- what we've managed to accomplish, and what has unfortunately gotten caught up in the political games.
This week, the debate continued on the extension of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, commonly referred to as the "Bush Tax Cuts." Now more than ever, we need to do all we can to keep our economy on the path to recovery. As our economy continues to take steps towards that recovery, one thing remains clear to me -- now is not the time to raise taxes on anyone. I have voiced my strong support of extension of these cuts, and I was glad to see that a framework was reached to not only extend the cuts, but also to help extend unemployment benefits to help Americans stay afloat as they look for work, which we must do.
The bipartisan agreement announced by the President also promises much needed reform to the flawed Estate Tax, an unfair and unwarranted tax burden on family farmers and small businesses which I strongly oppose. It is vitally important that we make sure hard working families and small business owners have the ability to pass on the money they've earned, allowing their heirs the freedom to spend that money on goods and services, create jobs and stimulate local and regional economies. I hope we can have folks come together and pass this compromise sooner rather than later.
I'm concerned that we got word this week that an agreement has been reached on another Free Trade deal, this time with South Korea. In the Eighth District, Free Trade Agreements have done much more harm than good. As a former textile worker, I've seen firsthand the negative effects of these failed policies in the form of outsourced jobs and shuttered mills. I was hopeful that we had learned the lessons of our past mistakes and would be able to work out a trade deal that not only strongly promotes American manufacturing and exporting, but also protects American jobs.
The framework of the agreement was announced this week, which is based on previous bad deals like NAFTA and CAFTA, and it's clear that again, not enough has been done to make sure the manufacturing jobs our district relies on are protected. As this agreement enters the legislative process, be certain that I will remain in front of this issue. I will do everything in my power to make sure the voices of the people of this district are heard--we can't afford another bad Free Trade deal.
Until we stop all of the government loopholes and tax incentives for companies that take their work overseas, we remain at a constant disadvantage. I remain committed to doing all I can to revitalize American manufacturing, making sure we have every bit of opportunity to compete in the global market, and keeping and creating good jobs right here at home.
Growing up the son of a World War II veteran and a school teacher, I've learned about the hard work and sacrifices made by members of previous generations to build our nation. Each generation in turn does its part to lift our nation to greatness. Unfortunately for the past two years, the promise our nation once made to our senior citizens has come up short. For the first time since Cost-Of-Living-Adjustments (COLAs) were allowed for inflation in 1975, no COLAs were made to Social Security recipients in 2010 and 2011. Last year, I was proud to support legislation that provided a one-time $250 payment to seniors. But sadly this week, the House was unable to pass a similar measure I cosponsored. Far too often, folks in Washington choose to play partisan politics with important issues. I have vowed to fight to stand up for Social Security at every turn, and will continue to do so. We must keep America's promise to those that have worked so hard to make our nation great.
As we enter the home stretch of the 111th Congress, I'll make sure I do all I can to represent you and your interests.